Thursday, 28 February 2013

Late February

Only been out a couple of times since the last post. I had a bit of a busy week, helping Michelle move house and going to Bristol. I wish I'd been down south a bit longer as I might have been able to go see the Pie-billed Grebe at Ham Wall, but there simply wasn't enough time!

On the Sunday before going away, I had another wander round the A52 site at Holme Pierrepont. It was another good trip with 33 species seen in just over an hour. A drake and female Smew were seen on the small lake on the site, a regular occurrence this winter it seems. They have been regularly seen by others around the area too. Once again a Cetti was heard singing, though from a slightly different location this time. Blott's pit was quieter than usual, aside from good numbers of Tufted Duck and Gulls, but 12 displaying Goldeneye was nice to see. Other ducks were present in extremely small numbers and the absence of big flocks of Wigeon was notable, as only 4 birds were seen. A flock of 40 or so Lapwing were seen wheeling above the pit. Elsewhere were lots of non-water birds, including several Goldcrest, several singing Song Thrush and a small flock of 15 Redwing feeding in some scrub to the south of the site.

Last Sunday while driving round West Bridgford, 15 Waxwing were seen feeding on some cotoneaster on the corner of Devonshire Road. The 1st flock I've seen since before Christmas.

On Tuesday, despite drizzly cold conditions, I headed to Attenborough on my bike. There had been some good birds reported including Raven, Red-breasted Merg and Pintail, all of which would be new for me for this site, as well as several reports of some Bittern, a bird which has eluded me at the reserve since February 2011!

I started of at the delta hide which was very quiet aside from small numbers of Gadwall, Wigeon and Shoveler. From here I cycled round to the Delta Gate to check out the bird table. This was very productive and included a Great Spotted Woodpecker feeding in the willows, and on the table a couple of Nuthatch and a marsh tit. Bullfinch, Jay and hordes of tits and finches were also present. A fellow birder told me of 40 snipe on the works pond so I headed there next. When I first arrived there, a flock of 20 or so flew up and disappeared from sight, definitely the most I've seen in one go. I started scanning the mud for any others but couldn't pick any up, just gulls and several Teal. I got my scope set up anyway and scanned the reeds and scrubby vegetation. Very soon I had spotted 6 Snipe all huddled together in the reeds and a little later a larger group of 8 were stood together in a patch of dead vegetation. Well over 30 snipe in the same location is a record for me and as far as I know, quite uncommon on the reserve.

Clifton Pond was relatively quiet, aside from several Goldeneye and a flock of around 60 Wigeon, however this is where the Bittern had been seen this week so I sat in the Tower hide to stake out and wait for the bird to show up. I was there for 5 minutes, just wondering if luck would be on my side, before out of the blue, a Bittern exploded from out of the central reedbed, and briefly flew across the water before disappearing into another thick patch of reed. Despite searching and waiting for it to reappear, it stayed put, but I was extremely pleased nonetheless to see this wonderful bird if for only a few seconds.

The path to the Tween scrapes and kingfisher hide were closed so after seeing a beautiful Little Egret in the wet meadow on wheatear field, I turned back and rode home. A very successful trip with 50 species seen, excellent for this time of year.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Early February

I started this month bemoaning February, as I thought of it as a relatively rubbish time of year for birding. The same old winter birds, not much in the way of rare or scarce birds and the inevitable longing for spring. However I've been out birding quite a bit, more than usual actually and I've had some pretty productive days.

I went to Clifton on the 1st and this lived up to my expectations, as despite good weather conditions, there wasn't a lot about, certainly not much to write about, but since then I've had some good trips out. I had a great day at attenborough on the 7th, managing a very respectable 48 species. Even the Delta hide, which can be quiet this time of year, was particularly busy with a nice selection of wildfowl including a good number of Wigeon, some Little Grebe and other common ducks, as well as some Reed Buntings and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. The bird table in the delta was busy too and included a reliable as usual Marsh Tit. One single Siskin was noted on the bund too. The highlight of the day was 10 Bullfinch in the trees along the wet marsh path, and 5 Snipe on the flooded wet grassland behind the tower hide. a flock of 50 or so Fieldfare was also noted over the river atop a tree on the fields at Clifton. I actually returned to the reserve with Michelle on Monday too, with my scope, so I could get a better look at the Snipe and to see if there were any Jack Snipe about, but there were only 3 Common Snipe that I could see. 300 or so Lapwing were wheeling in the skies above clifton pit too, which was spectacular. It was also very cold so we didn't stay long. 

On the 9th I had the morning off work so headed to Holme Pierrepont to see what was about. I covered the grassland and Blotts pit to the south of the watersports centre, a place I've only recently discovered since bird ringing there in the summer. This area has been secured by the wildlife trust now so it will be interesting to see how it develops. I'm planning on exploring this area more often now, potentially making it my official 'patch', as it is a brilliant area for migrants and can be good for rare birds too. I have an area list for the whole of Holme Pierrepont that I've been building on during my irregular visits in the past couple of years and it currently stands at 97, including some brilliant birds such as Red Kite, Bittern, Smew and Raven; so I'd like to add to it and potentially get some more decent birds in the process. The day I visited provided some good birding for only a brief visit, and I managed about 35 species including 64 Pink-footed Geese overhead, 2 female Smew and excellent views of green woodpeckers. I also heard a Cetti's Warbler, my first of the year but by no means the first for the area (I ringed one here in september). There were also around 300 Wigeon on Blott's Pit, and a further flock of around 150 flying near the a52 pit.

Cetti's Warbler Ringed by me in sept.
(Photo courtesy of G.Godd

To top the birding off I went to Netherfield Lagoons on Tuesday for the first time in months, as Michelle went shopping (Haha :) ) in the retail park nearby, giving me the chance to have a quick walk round the reserve. The actual reserve was relatively quiet compared to other winter visits, though there were good numbers of Teal in the reeds, as well as several Pochard and Shoveler along with a lone male Goldeneye. a nice flock of 25 or so Goldfinch was nice to see too. The most productive area was on the path into the reserve running alongside the Ouse Dyke. a couple of Grey Wagtails were feeding in the stream and I managed to get some nice shots of these, and some Wrens and Goldcrests were feeding down low on the Bank right on the waters edge. a couple of Little Egret were also present on the fields adjacent to the path.